iACADEMY response to the new normal of learning
Ever since I visited and had a glimpse of this school: iAcademy in Makati, I already included it in my list for my son to enroll to as a senior high and College in the future (read why HERE). I like that they are using the 21st century of teaching and that they value actual experiences more and they hire teachers that excels in the field that they teach.
Now, the question is how they can do it if there is a pandemic and kids can’t go to school to have a face to face interaction with their professors and use their facilities.
That’s why iACADEMY gathered hundreds of parents last Tuesday to discuss the new normal in the education system. And as a curious homeschooling mom, I attended it too.
They hosted a webinar discussion in which the school academic officials and parents had a meaningful talk on what entails flexible remote learning and the preparations the school has done to ensure the continuous and dynamic delivery of education for its students.
I was surprised to know that even before the pandemic happened, iACADEMY has already been implementing technology-enabled learning by utilizing various online platforms and tools like NEO and Google Classroom to deliver lessons. With the current health crisis and government pronouncements prohibiting conduct of face-to-face classes, iACADEMY has decided to roll out its new approach called GOAL or Guided Online Autonomous Learning.
“When the pandemic broke, all schools and universities were forced to expedite the use of technology to deliver instruction to ensure that learning is not disrupted. For us, we saw this challenge as an opportunity to step up our game. iACADEMY will implement an online distance learning program called GOAL or Guided Online Autonomous Learning. GOAL is our online distance education program designed to provide a flexible, relevant, balanced, and collaborative learning experience to our students,” said Cecilia Sy, iACADEMY’s Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Sy emphasized that the program will be learner-centered and faculty-directed. It is anchored on a holistic and adaptive approach to teaching and learning.
“It is learner-centered because it factors in the learning capacity of the students and provides learning activities that are engaging, relevant and outcome-based. The focus is to equip students with the essential knowledge, values and skills to prepare them for future challenges in their careers. It’s also faculty-directed because students are still guided, monitored and mentored by our professors in spite of the absence of a onsite face-to-face interaction. The professors will continue to do regular check-ins on students to know how they are doing and how they are managing their time and workload,” Sy added.
Flexible remote learning defined
A lot of buzz words have come up recently ever since schools started adopting alternative modes of learning. Among these terms include online learning, blended learning, modular, flexible remote learning and distance learning.
According to Sy, flexible learning is a multi-faceted approach to learning where students are given options on how, what, when and where they learn. It is the overarching drive, philosophy or approach behind the other methods of delivering instruction.
“I want to emphasize that Flexible Learning is student-centered because it encourages and empowers students to be autonomous or independent which is a key attribute that enables them to manage the challenges in the 21st century. Flexible Learning combines and expands familiar approaches to teaching and learning. Face-to-face classes, blended learning and distance learning are part and parcel of flexible learning,” Sy explained.
In short, flexible learning draws on different approaches and methods of delivering instruction that is most suitable to the circumstances and needs of the learners.
Meanwhile, Blended Learning refers to delivering the lessons through face-to-face and online classes. This means some lessons are taught in a traditional classroom set-up and others are taught online.
Distance learning, on the other hand, pertains to delivering instruction remotely. The key elements in distance learning are time and space. In this set-up, students are not in the same physical room with their teachers and classmates while learning. Learning sessions are conducted synchronously and or asynchronously.
Synchronous learning is conducting learning sessions where students and professors interact and collaborate in real time. This can be done either through face-to-face classes or through remote or distance learning enabled by technology. This set-up allows immediate feedback because it facilitates the exchange of ideas and information in real time.
In asynchronous learning, professors and students collaborate but not in real time. The professors provide offline learning materials or resources that students study or work on in their own time. This includes tutorial videos, recorded lectures and demonstrations, modules, learning guides and other reading materials. Students and professors communicate through discussion boards, emails, or instant messaging. These tools are used for consultation and feedback.
“Contrary to what most people think, asynchronous learning has its benefits. In this format, students develop self-discipline and a sense of ownership of their learning because they are given some autonomy on how to pace themselves. It allows them to spend more time on challenging lessons and work toward mastery. Students can still collaborate with their teachers and classmates through chat boxes and discussion boards,” Sy further explained.
Delivery of quality education through flexible remote learning
For Jake Aragon, iACADEMY’s Senior High School Principal, parents and students alike can still be assured that the delivery of quality education is possible even through flexible remote learning.
“Quality education will still be achieved through GOAL because our teachers will continue to share their expertise through online channels,” said Aragon.
He added that instructors and professors can effectively assess a student’s performance in a flexible learning set-up through the careful use of grading criteria and rubrics that measure learning. “Also, we will allow students to create projects anchored on their voice and choice. There will be a focus on learning styles,” Aragon shared.
“The administration of exams will also be done online; in addition, projects that will be required as final assessments will be designed according to what is practical and meaningful for students,” he said.
With regard to the subjects with lessons that were usually done in labs, iACADEMY ensures that these can be delivered effectively using the distance learning approach.
“To efficiently implement GOAL, subject courses that will fall under GOAL were enhanced and redesigned for a remote learning arrangement without watering down its content such as lab subjects that only require the use of a regular desktop or laptop, coupled with an internet connection. Concepts and skills will be instructed through demonstrations or tutorial videos.,” Sy said.
Overall, the school’s academic officials emphasized that the new learning arrangement for students follows an outcome-based approach wherein assessments or projects are geared towards evaluating what the students know and can do. The activities and assessments are designed for students to demonstrate and apply the skills or competencies they learned.
As the school fully implements the flexible remote learning or its Guided Online Autonomous Learning (GOAL) approach, its officials are hoping to get the support of its students’ parents by collaborating and keeping the latter’s communication lines open for news, feedback, and developments.
“We would like to seek the continued support and cooperation of our parents in the implementation of GOAL by creating a study space at home for their children to do their school work and by encouraging them to follow a regular study schedule to help them complete the learning tasks,” Sy said.
“The school and parents can work together by always keeping our communication channels open and providing the necessary environment at home for students to make the most out of online learning,” Aragon added.
My Take Away
With this clear regulation from iAcademy, parents should not have to worry about their kids missing the school year and not having the same learning experience. From the webinar, I learned that they are also planning to have a virtual tour of museums and other places here and abroad that will help in the discussion.
They mentioned also that there will be an adjustment in the tuition fee which is one of the concerns of most parents. I appreciate that they mentioned it because I learned that some schools did not change their tuition fees even though kids don’t get to use the school facilities.
Overall, I guess iAcademy is ready to handle this new way of learning during this crisis and they are equipped to provide their enrollees the quality education they deserve.
(Information and Communications Technology Academy) is one of the top colleges in the Philippines with IT-based and industry-partnered education systems. We continually formulate relevant and innovative programs and services to ensure a more holistic development of students and to equip them with enough tools to become leaders in their chosen fields of expertise and significant contributors to society. We also recognize the importance of building lasting and rewarding alliances with leading industry players in providing a better life for our graduates
Address: 7434 iACADEMY Nexus Yakal St. Bgy. San AntonioMakati